Everything was set. Manager in place. First few players signed. Now it was time to bring in the rest to make up a full squad. Which caused a problem…
How do you spend £80 million in the sixth tier of English football?
Where do you start?
Who do you realistically think you can get?
Most players as it turned out because Mr. Sawyer had caused such a commotion launching Steam FC that we were known worldwide with a curious set of new fans. So I set about building the squad that would take us up.
Firstly I began by looking for experience, especially at the back. Latvian Kaspars Gorkss has been a solid Championship defender for a number of years and would be able to comfortably navigate the Conference South. Joseph Yobo was the main target however simply because he had seen and done pretty much everything in the game and would be the perfect mentor for the young core I was looking to build.
The key man in that young core was centre back Sam Magri whose big move to QPR had flopped badly and left him without a club. We snapped him up as quick as possible along with Anthony Stewart, a regular in the last few seasons at Wycombe despite being just 21. Midfielders Archie Love and Craig Roddan added extra depth. Slovakian full back Kristian Kostrna was a solid full back while the Polish duo of goalkeeper Mateusz Taudul and striker Sebastian Czapa (who actually turned down a move to the Ekstraklasa to join) would add more depth. It was a good set of free young players who would be the base of the squad.
Then it was on to the extra talent that was going to set us back money. I had decided I wanted to target those who were no longer wanted by their clubs and needed an escape route when nobody was offering them one. So in came Manchester United pair Ben Amos and Marnick Vermijl for a combined £700,000; striker Etien Velikonja from Cardiff for £425,000; winger Scott Wagstaff for £275,000 from Bristol City; Newcastle’s Shane Ferguson set us back £875,000 while Israeli midfielder Beram Kayal cost us £300,000 from Celtic. The best piece of business from the transfer list was also the most expensive piece of business – Tottenham’s Ryan Mason set us back £3.8 million but it was entirely worth it for a player that would tear apart the Championship. Portuguese left back Rafael Floro also looked like a steal at just £110,000 from Sheffield Wednesday.
All in all, an exciting couple of weeks and I’d achieved my aim of getting a skeleton of a squad together by the end of July to ready them in enough time for the season opener. We’d got quality and pulled off some real coups in the process (Mason and Kayal mainly) yet Mr. Sawyer was not entirely happy.
It turns out that in the process of giving me millions upon millions of pounds, Mr. Sawyer wanted me to go out and buy flashy big name players. He’d mentioned this when I arrived but in my haste to build the squad that would get us into league football, I’d forgotten about it totally.
The frantic search began then for a player who would not only join us but also satisfy Mr. Sawyer. Attempts for Barcelona starlets Alex Grimaldo, Rafinha and Munir all failed because they didn’t want to play in the Conference South (understandably). Quickly a solution was found in the form of a young Belgian winger named Zakaria Bakkali at PSV. £8 million later and we had our big name.
Not big enough for Mr. Sawyer though.
If you want to do this challenge yourself on Football Manager, the link to the Steam workshop is here.
The previous part is here if you missed it.